Saturday, February 21, 2009


This week while preparing for a birth class, I read Sheila Kitzinger's book Homebirth. I was struck anew how much I love her writing. It is so lyrical and vibrant and really gets to the heart. I also deeply identify with it. I wanted to share a poem that was in the book in the section about assessing risk and statistics and homebirth and is it really safe, etc.:

Thoughts on "risk"
by Judith Dickson Luce

word so small
born a verb
an "action word"

as I learned in 4th grade
I risk
you risk
she risks
even a noun something
I take
you take
she takes

in philosophy a description of what life is
with its own rewards:
I love and risk loss and pain
I try and risk failure
I trust and risk betrayal
I live and risk death
but we've moved so far beyond philosophy
to insurance--for anything and everything
to machines
to technology and control
(no daring)

and computers spit out the risk we are "at"
before we breathe
before we take a first step
that might lead us to fall
and the computers and the statisticians tell us
it is healthier and safer
and wiser not to take risks
since we are "at risk"
and they can reduce risk
and with it our capacity
for living
and touching
and caring
it's safer that way
neater and more efficient
and definitely more sterile
and what more can we ask of life?

Commentary by Tom Luce: "It's very risky to be born since very few people who are born avoid dying (though many avoid living). If you are born there is a high statistical risk you might die."

Here is an example of what I mean about Kitzinger's lyrical writing style:

"Your breathing dances, you get into the swing of contractions, swimming over each as it rises in crescendo, or breasting it like a great ocean wave. You float, you ride, you ski down the mountain slopes, or leap into the void...The imagery that is likely to be helpful to you will include active verbs of opening, releasing, spreading, unfolding, and fanning out. As contractions sweep through you, concepts that suggest power, energy, strength, and perhaps, storm or even whirlwind suddenly make sense, along with wave and water fantasies--verbs such as stream, pool, flood, gush, flow, and cascade. And all over the world, in many different cultures, woman use visual images of fruit ripening and of the baby's head like a hard bud in the center of a flower unfurling petals. As you read about birth, and whenever you take time to relax and enjoy anticipatory fantasies, create you own images and dreams that will give positive meaning to all the sensations of labor. Doing this will help you to savor fully an adventure that can be among the most thrilling, intense and satisfying experiences of your life."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Molly-

I nominated you for Tree of Happiness- thanks for all the great work you do!